Dead by Daylight beginners guide – everything you need to know to start playing DBD

Dead by Daylight beginners guide – everything you need to know to start playing DBD
Finlay Cattanach Updated on by

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In search of a Dead by Daylight beginners guide? Then you’re in the right place. Behaviour Interactive’s asymmetric survival horror game is great fun, but with so many mechanics, characters, maps and more, it can easily become overwhelming trying to get to grips with the basics.

So we’ve put this Dead by Daylight beginners guide together to help. We’ll give you a breakdown of all the basics, informing with our experience to create a comprehensive but cohesive walkthrough. If you’ve yet to get into the game though and are still on the fence, we might be able to help there too. Want to know if you can find Dead by Daylight free, Dead by Daylight on Game Pass, or if you need Playstation Plus for Dead by Daylight? We’ve got you covered.

Beginners guide tips for Dead by Daylight

Here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll need to know if you’re a beginner stepping into Dead by Daylight. We’re going to take you through each of the points below, covering the basics, and backing it up with our own tips and tricks we’ve picked up through our experiences with the game.

  • How to play a Survivor – We’ll cover goals, mechanics, and clever strategies you can use to stay alive for longer.
  • How to play a Killer – We’ll outline aims, gameplay steps, and our best advice for hunting and hooking Survivors quickly.
  • Bloodwebs, Experience Points, and the importance of progression.
  • Perks, items, builds, and why the right equipment is crucial to success.
  • The best Killers and Survivors for your first time playing.
  • Miscellaneous gameplay tips and tricks.

Dead by Daylight is a big game, and even in this comprehensive guide there will be things we miss or features we might not shine a big enough light on. Be sure to take a look at our wider catalogue of guides too. Whether you’re after rare cosmetics like bloody clothes or just want to know how to Mori Survivors, chances are we’ve got something that can help.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: Two Survivors sneak around a house to avoid a Killer.
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Dead by Daylight playing a Survivor – What you need to know to succeed

There’s a pretty big clue in the name as to your main objective as a Survivor – survive the match, surprisingly enough. This is far easier said than done though. When participating in a Trial, which is what matches are called in-game, your only real path to survival is escape. There are two ways to do this.
The first and most common way is to open the exit gates. Each map will have two of these, and they’ll begin the game powered down. Your goal is to search around the map and repair at least five of the eight total generators that spawn. Trying to repair generators can be its own challenge, as you’ll need to contend with a slow repair progress bar, random quick-time events which will reduce progress and make noise if failed, and the ever-looming presence on the map of the Killer.

Your second way to escape is to find the hatch, a small metal trapdoor which spawns somewhere on the map. When you’re the last Survivor left alive, you’ll be able to escape through this hatch as long as you get to it before the Killer does. Given the opening conditions, and the potential that the Killer might close it first, we’d only recommend relying on this option as a last resort.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: Claudette drops off the corner of a roof to avoid the gaze of a Legion Killer.
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You’ll have to balance your escape work with avoiding the Killer of course, and though your enemy has advantages, so do you. You can hide in closets, pull down palettes to block their path, and vault over ledges at a much greater speed than them.

We’d recommend first of all that you prioritise teamwork above everything if you want to succeed. Whether you’re playing online with strangers or with friends, your numerical advantage is your greatest asset. Healing injured teammates and repairing generators go much faster if more than one person is working on it at a time. Try to group up with at least one teammate where you can to accelerate generator repairs.

You can utilise this same idea in avoiding the Killer too. A two person chase forces the Killer to make decisions about who to prioritise – you can always feint your retreat if you get away, finding a hiding spot nearby so you’re ready to free the hunted teammate if they get hooked. Because automatic deaths or Mori’s cant occur until a player has been hooked twice, forcing the Killer to a position where they’ve got to three-hook every Survivor buys you an awful lot more time to prepare your escape.

Try to be proactive and cooperative as a Survivor. It’ll get things done more quickly while buying you more time to do them, and greatly expanding your chances for success.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: Dwight runs towards a hooked ally with a Killer in close pursuit.
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Dead by Daylight playing a Killer – What you need to know to succeed

Just like Survivors, Killers have a clue in their name – their objective is to kill. Who’d have thought? Your aim during a match is specifically to sacrifice as many Survivors as possible to The Entity, the eldritch being responsible for the game’s happenings in cannon.

To do this, you’ll need to knock down Survivors. Two hits from your weapon will always accomplish this. Once they’re on the ground, interact to pick them up, and take them to a hook. When a Survivor is hooked, it starts the countdown to their death. They can try to escape themselves, but this is unlikely to work unless you’re within 16 metres of them, as loitering improves their odds to escape. Other Survivors can also free them, but they need to do it before their ally’s time runs out. There are also only a limited number of times a Survivor can be hooked and get out of it. Once they’ve been hooked twice, a Mori or a third hook automatically sacrifices them. Ideally, you want to wipe out all four of your opponents, but this can often be easier said than done.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: A Survivor vaults through a window, right into the arms of the Wraith.
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Killers have a fair few advantages. When Survivors are injured they bleed, and when they sprint they leave scratch marks. Both result in trials which Killers can follow. Whenever a quicktime event on generators fails, the resulting blast alerts the Killer with a visual input. And during chases, Killers have no limits to their stamina, and Survivors have no way to fight back.

This is balanced against some drawbacks. Killers are slow, taking far longer to move over vault ledges, and take ages to recover from a swing with their weapon, regardless of whether or not they hit.

Your aim when playing a Killer then is careful strategy, and purposeful precision. If possible, try to focus on one Survivor at a time. Although in poorly coordinated games you may have the opportunities needed to go after everyone, in times where Survivors know what they’re doing, the most effective blow you can make against a team is to take down one or two of them early on, drastically slowing escape progress.

Secondly, play around with the different Killers available to you. Whether you get Killers who are locked behind Iridescent Shard and Auric Cell purchases or stick to the base game options, you’ll find each to play significantly differently. Killers have a lot of unique powers at their disposal which will suit various playstyles. In a section below, you’ll find our suggestions for the best first-time or early game choices you might want to try out.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: A Killer decloaks behind a Survivor.
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Bloodwebs, Experience Points, and why levelling up is so important

Every character in the game has a special progression and upgrades tree, called a Bloodweb. This is where you’ll spend those Bloodpoints you’ll have collected throughout matches.

The Bloodweb may look complicated at a glance, but it’s actually not too bad. A Bloodweb contains procedurally generated, and thus largely random, beneficial perks, items and offerings. By spending bloodpoints you can unlock them, and unlock the path in the Bloodweb to other goodies. Each web is fairly small, and once you’ve claimed everything on it, the Bloodweb will level up, and generate a new web with new, better rewards. This goes on up to level 50. After this point, you can Prestige Bloodwebs for special rewards, stronger perks, and new features, such as being able to transfer character specific perks to any Survivor or Killer.

Experience Points meanwhile will get your player account level up, as well as help you gather Iridescent Shards. As you level up, you’ll unlock extra perk slots, allowing you to flesh out your builds and develop characters properly.

Something that might not be immediately apparent to new players is how little winning a game actually matters compared to progression. Whether you win or lose, your performance will still drive progress as you acquire more Bloodpoints and Experience points. This is so important because what truly makes your characters viable are the items, perks, and offerings they can use. Only by investing in Bloodwebs and levelling up to unlock perk slots will you reach a state at which characters become really potent in-game.

Once you’ve acquired more experience, then you can worry about trying your hardest to win games. But early on it’s a tough battle, so don’t be disheartened if you rarely come away with a victory. It’s the progression and rewards earnt in the background that really matter.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: A Killer's first Bloodweb level being unlocked.
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Perks, Items and builds – Just what are they and why are they so important?

It’s great for us to point out the importance of progression above wins, but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t familiar with what these perks, items, offerings and builds actually are. We’re not going to cover the best perks or best builds here, but rather explain these features, and why exactly they’re important.

Character perks

Perks are unlockable special traits you can equip to a character to permanently give them certain attributes, abilities, or buffs. You’ll find them in the Bloodweb, and they’re always diamond-shaped. However each Killer and Survivor also starts out with three unique perks, usually tailored to their particular strengths. To begin, you can equip up to one perk, but eventually you’ll unlock enough slots to equip up to four. This is important, because different perks can synergise well together, making your character much stronger than they might otherwise be.

As an example, Survivors can unlock the perks Botany Knowledge and Empathy. The former increases your healing speed, while the latter increases the range you can detect injured teammates from. Equipping them together will allow you to much more easily assist teammates and keep the team on their feet.

These two perks are also unique perks for Claudette Morel. It’s worth noting that although only she can use them, if you Prestige her Bloodweb enough times, her unique perks become universal perks, and can be equipped on any Survivor. This is another reason that investing in Bloodwebs is important.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: A Killer's perks on display in the bottom corner of a screen.
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Items work a little differently from perks. While they still boost certain character abilities, they’re not permanent, and are instead consumables. Generally speaking, an item will be a piece of equipment which you can utilise to gain certain effects or perform a specific action. Some examples include the Tool Kit, which speeds up generator repair rates, the Health Kit, which does the same for healing allies, or the Flashlight, which can be shone into the eyes of the Killer, momentarily blinding them. They are all denoted in prep by square icons.

As well as these items, you’ve got add-ons. These are extra components you can fit to an item when you load into a game. They’ll improve particular aspects of the item, perhaps giving it more usability before its durability is gone, or buffing its particular feature.

Items can be found in two places. You can find them in chests scattered around maps, though these do take time to open so be careful when going after them. You can also pick up items and add-ons through progressing a Bloodweb. Keep in mind once again though that these items are all one-use-only things, and you’ll need to pick up another one once consumed. That means if you happen to find something of high rarity, consider carefully how and when you might want to use it first.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: Two Survivors repair a generator together, with one of them using a toolbox to speed things up.
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Though not always as powerful or important as perks and items, offerings are nonetheless important. An offering is a consumable that will enable a certain modifier or effect in a match. They take place before a match actually begins and are used automatically if equipped to your chosen character. They are shown as hexagonal icons.

Offerings can vary a lot based on what rarity they are. A common offering like the Bog Laurel Sachet grants an extra 50% Bloodpoints for points earnt in the Objective category. A rare offering like the Hawkins National Laboratory I.D meanwhile greatly increases the chances that you’ll play on the Hawkins Laboratory map.

Offerings do mainly just affect match or starting conditions, or earnings. But if you want to improve your chances in a certain way or set up particular starting advantages, they’re a great thing to make use of.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: An Offering seen in a Bloodweb.
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When we refer to builds, what we’re really referring to is the combination of all of the above features. To really excel in DBD, you want to spend your early game time choosing characters who work for you and investing in them.

When you feel ready, we’d encourage you to take stock of your perks, items, add-ons, and offerings, as well as the strategies and tactics you tend to favour during matches. From there, it’s easier to work out what items and perks combine well together, and which suit your playstyle. This will then let you create a build that plays to your strengths or accounts for your weaknesses, greatly improving your gameplay experience.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: A Character's build, outfitted with early game perks, items and offerings.
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Our recommendations on the best Killers and Survivors for new players

Now that you’re up to speed with all the basic mechanics, let’s go a little more specific. In this section, we’re going to give you some suggestions for Killers and Survivors you might want to try out if you’re new to the game.


Killers can really vary when it comes to how they play. Here’s a list we’d recommend you try at least once to get a feel for their playstyle and find something that works.

  • The Trapper – A simple Killer with basic but effective abilities. Be careful not to step in your own traps though.
  • The Wraith – A Killer with invisibility powers, they can cloak and decloak at will. Fantastic for ambushes on unprepared Survivors.
  • The Nurse – A complex Killer with the ability to teleport short distances. One of the deadliest pursuit Killers in the game, but very challenging to play, requiring serious experience to master.
  • The Legion – If you’re willing to spend some money outright or don’t mind the grind for some Iridescent Shards, The Legion is a good Killer to unlock early on. Their Feral Frenzy ability affords them greater speed, versatility for dealing with obstacles, and ferocious, chaining attacks. They’re an excellent choice if you want to try out a fully aggression-focused Killer.
  • The Huntress – A Killer with the ability to throw her weapons across a limited range, The Huntress is good for those who value precision and foresight over speed and aggression when tackling their prey.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of course. The Hillbilly, and the numerous horror IP Killers like the Demogorgon from Stranger Things are just a few of the many other choices you may want to check out, depending on how you want to approach the game.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: The Nurse, ready to queue into a game.
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Though they might not seem as flashy as the Killers, Survivors also boast a wide range of distinct abilities, perks, and differences that give them great specialisations. Here are our top picks for new players.

  • Claudette Morel – A Survivor focused around healing, Claudette is easy to learn and offers some great team support bonuses, even from lower levels.
  • Dwight Fairfield – Dwight is a jack of all trades but master of none. His perks revolve around improving speed and efficiency of many different tasks or actions by small amounts, rather than going all in on one specific area. Another reliable team player if you’re not sure who to pick.
  • Meg Thomas – Meg is all about speed and stealth. Her perks allow her to move faster and more quietly, granting her better chances of evading Killers and remaining out of reach for longer. A good choice for anyone who likes to play a little riskier.
  • Gabriel Soma – If you’re willing to spend some Cells or grind some Shards, Gabriel is a solid choice. His perks revolve around improving his capacity to repair generators quickly. He’s a good choice if you want to play fast and go for efficient wins.
  • Nea Carlson – Similar to Meg, Nea is a stealthy Survivor, though goes all in on evasion rather than speed. If you want to try a strategic approach, avoiding the Killer as much as possible, Nea might be the pick for you.

Again, this is far from an exhaustive list. Other Survivors like David King and Jake Park are worth checking out if you want a rounded picture of everything on offer from the get-go.

Dead by Daylight beginners guide: Dwight, running towards the escape gate.
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Miscellaneous tips and tricks to help you win

Lastly, we’ve put together this section for smaller tidbits of advice for Survivors and Killers alike. These are aimed to help you learn and grow a little faster as you play matches.

  • Survivors can stun Killers. With the proper timing, dropping a Pallet as a Killer is running under it will cause it to hit them, disabling their movement as they recover for a handful of seconds.
  • Listen out for heartbeats. If you hear a rising heartbeat, that means the Killer is nearby. Try to hide or relocate once you hear it, though if you’re about to finish a task like completing a generator, it’ll be up to you to weigh the threat against the benefit.
  • Killers can damage generators. If you’re struggling to keep up with Survivors, approach and interact with a generator as a Killer. You can damage it, knocking off some of its repair progress.
  • Custom games. If you’re playing Dead by Daylight multiplayer with friends, you can always try out a custom game. In this private setting, you’ll all be able to coordinate, giving you the perfect testing grounds to try out new Killers, Survivors, builds, and strategies before heading into online multiplayer.
  • The Shrine of Secrets. The last tab on the store menu is worth checking out once you’ve acquired at least 2,000 Iridescent Shards. The Shrine holds four random but powerful perks, which you can purchase and unlock with Shards. It refreshes every so often with new stock. These perks tend to be especially useful, and you can even pick up higher tiers of them from the Shrine too.

That brings us to the end of our Dead by Daylight beginners guide. Hopefully you now feel better equipped to face the game with knowledge of the basic mechanics, ideas for how you might want to optimise your own play, and general tips and ideas to help you thrive even if you’re just getting started. There’s plenty more help available though. Whether it’s a specific mechanic like how to drop items that you’re not familiar with, or you just want some Dead by Daylight codes so that you can pick up some free cosmetics and rewards, we’ve got you covered.

Is Dead by Daylight difficult?

Dead by Daylight can be a challenging game. With so many characters, perks, and items at play, it’s often difficult to win games without experience, teamwork, or both.

Does Dead by Daylight have singleplayer?

Technically, yes, but in a very limited fashion. In the tutorials section for Dead by Daylight, players have the option to hone their skills by playing matches with bots. This is the extent of DBD’s single player experience.

Is Dead by Daylight on mobile?

Yes, there is a separate Dead By Daylight version for mobile devices.